By Noel Whelan

15th Feb, 2020 | 4:00pm

'You're the man' - Exclusive: Whelan raves over West Brom player who started today

Noel Whelan has been left raving over West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone after firmly establishing himself as a favourite at the Hawthorns.

The former Leeds United striker and Championship expert, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists that the 26-year-old has come on leaps and bounds during his “rapid” rise over the last couple of seasons.

Johnstone has started and played every minute of the club’s 33 Championship fixtures this season, but was unable to add to his one home clean sheet against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Whelan says that the former Manchester United man has impressed him for years now and that his quality will be a big confidence boost for the rest of the Baggies’ backline.

Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s really important that you have someone that you can trust and a lot of quality in that area. Sam Johnstone, great young goalkeeper.

“I watched him out on loan and I saw how impressive he is. Really good goalkeeper, his progression to where he is now has been rapid. He’s one of those players who is coming into his own now. 

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“He feels comfortable at the club, he feels he is number one and that makes a huge difference for someone’s confidence, when you know that you’re the man. It must be a huge comfort for the defence knowing that they’ve got someone of that quality behind them as well.”

Johnstone has 80 appearances under his belt for West Brom since joining in 2018, with 32 of those coming this season.

He also spent time at midlands rivals Aston Villa before his move to the Hawthorns, playing 70 times while at Villa Park.

In other West Brom news, Leeds-mad Whelan admits he wished a significant player update “wasn’t happening” at the Hawthorns.